Career Advice Tuesday – “On the Verge of a Breakdown”

April 6, 2010

Dear Infosecleaders:

I’ve had my current job for about 6 months and really enjoy it. It is more of what I want my career path to be than previous jobs I’ve had. I have decent compensation, as in I’m able to pay my bills each month and save up a little at the end, but that’s it. I don’t even have a car yet, and my compensation doesn’t allow me as much freedom in that department as I’d like.

The problem I am running in to is that I am more and more having to work not just Monday through Friday, but Saturday and sometimes even Sunday as well. While I certainly appreciate that I have a job while many in the industry do not, and that management has stated that they are very pleased with me, I am also getting burned out and feeling that my compensation no longer reflects on the amount and quality of work I am putting in. It is getting to the point where I am having a hard time taking care of myself both socially and medically. In addition to all of this, I am trying to get a degree to supplement my knowledge and experience so that I can enter the career path that I want to enter. Because of this, both school and work are suffering, and of course my mental status as well.

How can I get myself out of this hole before something bad happens? I don’t want to leave this job because I do enjoy it, but it has been on my mind lately.

- The Security-Conscious Nail Biter

Dear Nail Biter:

I will tell you that when we read your note, your situation sounded pretty severe,   The way that we interpreted your note was that you had a position that you enjoy a great deal and is adequately paying the bills, but your manager seemed to be taking advantage of your willingness to work long hours, without the benefit of additional compensation.   These additional work hours and stress seem to be having a great effect on both your physical and mental health, and you were looking for a solution.

I am going to offer you two pieces of advice that I believe can apply to the situation that you described.

Communicate With Your Manager

I have a feeling from your note that you have not been able to have a discussion with your manager about how you have been feeling and the effect that it has been having on you.  My suggestion would be to do this sooner, rather than later, and explain to him how the changes in the job have been affecting your life and your health.  After you do this, you should see how he responds.  If he approaches the situation with a “take it or leave it” attitude, then I think you have to begin to search for another position.  However, if he is understanding about how you feel, he will most likely attempt to alleviate your pain and try to figure out a solution to your issues.

Determine Your Level of Sacrifice

One of the things that you (and all other information security professionals) have to figure out is how much you are willing to absorb for a “good position.”  I know that you speak about not earning extra money for your extra time, but that really is a secondary issue.  The main issue is how this position is effecting your health and personal well being.  The best advice that I can give you is that no position is that great and unique that it is worth jeopardizing your health.  It appears that you have developed some very good skills, you just may need to find another work environment where you can apply them.

In closing, I think that it is great that you have found a good position.  I hope that you will have the self confidence to approach your manager and figure out a solution that enables you to keep your position and maintain your health.

Hope this helps,

Lee and Mike

Posted by lee | Filed Under Advice, Career Advice Tuesday 


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